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Transfers heat up in worlds week

With Cannondale-Garmin, Tinkoff-Saxo, Movistar, and others announcing news Thursday, worlds week is the time for transfers and changes.

MILAN (VN) — The transfer window opened August 1, but Thursday, during the world championships week, it let through a wave of rider and team signings.

Some teams renewed cyclists; others welcomed new names. Team Sky is planning to announce a block of six new riders this afternoon, and reportedly, it will include out-going world champion, Pole Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step). Other WorldTour pros moved earlier this morning.

Team Cannondale-Garmin announced that it would sign Australian climber Simon Clarke for the 2016 season. Clarke leaves Orica-GreenEdge after four years. He rode this year’s Giro, winning the opening team time trial with Orica and also earning second place in stage 4 to La Spezia.

“Simon has excellent experience and is a very good road captain,” general manager, Jonathan Vaughters said in a press release. “He has the ability to help guide some of our younger riders and is capable of great achievements himself. He will be a fantastic addition to the team.”

The 29-year-old was rumored to be joining BMC with Richie Porte. Clarke helped Porte in the Giro by giving him his front wheel — a move that saw Porte docked two minutes in the overall classification, to the chagrin of the two countrymen.

After losing Clarke, Orica re-signed Swiss Michael Albasini for 2016 and 2017. This year, Albasini climbed his way to two stage wins his home race, the Tour de Romandie. In 2012, he won the overall of the Volta a Catalunya.

“I’m proud that I’m able to pass something on to the younger riders and the perspective of moving towards being a general classification team is something I’m really exited about for us,” Albasini, 34, said Thursday. “The team has such a deep line-up for the big races, and I’m looking forward to doing my best for our aspirations here with guys like [Esteban] Chaves and the Yates brothers [Adam and Simon].”

Team Tinkoff-Saxo confirmed Alberto Contador’s long-time helper Jesús Hernández will stay for 2016. “I commit myself 100 percent to the squad and its leader and place the team goals above any personal ambitions,” said the 33-year-old Spaniard. “[The team is] led by the best rider in the world, Alberto Contador. It would be my dream to help Alberto win the Tour de France, especially since it will also be the final year of his career.”

French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni re-signed with Cofidis after his first year in the team. He originally had a contract that ran through 2016, but extended it to 2017. “Nacer’s contract extension,” said the French second-tier team in a press release, “is a logical consequence of a strong season with no less than 10 victories.”

Cofidis also announced it signed Bouhanni’s 19-year-old brother, Rayane, a former French junior national champion, and Slovenian Borut Bozic, who leaves team Astana for the 2016 season.

Spanish Movistar team welcomed Portuguese Nelson Oliveira for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The 26-year-old won a stage in the Vuelta a España riding for Italian team Lampre-Merida and is the current Portugese national time trial champion — his third such title.

Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo signed Italian Enrico Battaglin from Italian Professional Continental team Bardiani-CSF. Battaglin, winner of stages in the 2014 and 2013 Giro d’Italia, will lead the team in the Ardennes classics. “After four years with Bardiani-CSF Pro Team, it’s a good moment to move to a WorldTour team,” Battaglin said. “I didn’t ride a superb season, so I’m very glad for this chance.”

The wave of signings this week could be linked to the world championships in Richmond, where cyclists, team managers, and agents are all gathered. The day of rest Thursday provided many an opportunity to look to the future.